WORLD'S SMALLEST HUMANOID ROBOT
i-SOBOT Can Dance and Mimic Animals
(August 31, 2007)
A new humanoid robot, certified as the world's smallest, will be released this autumn by Japanese toy manufacturer Tomy Company. On October 25, 2007, the Omnibot 17µ i-SOBOT is scheduled to hit the market—as well as the 2008 edition of Guinness World Records, which will list the product as "the smallest humanoid robot in production." Robotics fans look forward to i-SOBOT as a fun toy to add to their collections, but also as a leap forward in miniaturization of the advanced parts that go into these high-tech tools.
Surprising Size and Price
Tomy's i-SOBOT architecture, the control system developed to operate this new robot, makes use of 19 integrated circuit chips that work in tandem to enable the toy's complex actions.
i-SOBOT will be sold for ¥29,800 before tax ($248 at ¥120 to the dollar) in fully assembled form, complete with rechargeable batteries and its remote control, which features twin joysticks, programmable buttons, and an LCD screen. According to the manufacturer, this price is quite affordable for a robot of this complexity. In addition to its release in Japan, the robot will make its way to markets in the United States and elsewhere in Asia. In 2008 Tomy intends to extend sales to Europe as well. To reach its global sales target of 300,000 units, the company is localizing i-SOBOT's software in English and Chinese in addition to Japanese.
Four Modes for Action
This robot is entertaining to the ear as well as the eye. As it goes through its actions it plays sounds from its library of nearly 100 sound effects and songs. The speaker can be turned off, too, when silent action is preferable. The toy is humanoid in form, but the designers have included playful actions in its repertoire that have it imitate the adorable movements of animals.
Tomy has taken steps to make i-SOBOT eco-friendly. The toy manufacturer is shipping the robot with three rechargeable AAA batteries from Sanyo Electric Co., whose Eneloop nickel metal hydride batteries let users keep the robot running for months without sending dead batteries to landfills. Tomy is also collaborating in Sanyo's Energy Evolution Project by making i-SOBOT part of the programs carried out at Japanese elementary schools. The companies hope to boost children's awareness of environmental issues by powering the fun robot with rechargeable cells.
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